After reaching the playoffs of the Indian Super League in 2016, Mumbai City FC was back on the bottom half of the table. With a new coach and an impressive preseason, Mumbai could spring a surprise or two.
After a lackluster show in the 2017/18 season, the Mumbai City FC management replaced Alexandre Guimaraes with Jorge Costa in the coaching role.
Costa’s first assignment was the preseason tour to Thailand, where the Islanders won all their matches with a glut of goals. However, the bigger focus lay on their defense: Mumbai conceded 29 goals in 18 matches in the previous season. The signings of experienced defenders like Subashish Bose, Souvik Chakrabarti and Shouvik Ghosh should partially address these problems.
To strengthen the squad further, the former Porto player roped in Paulo Machado, Modou Sogou, and Rafael Bastos as Mumbai City’s foreign players.
Mumbai City FC looks strong on paper. They retained the Romanian, Lucian Goian, as captain, while the midfield is well-stocked with the likes of Mohammad Rafique, Milan Singh, and Bipin Singh.
Costa has played at the highest level of international and club football for over a decade-and-a-half, with his most decorated moment coming in 2004, when he captained FC Porto to a UEFA Champions League win under Jose Mourinho.
The former Portuguese international has had coaching experience with S.C. Braga in the Primeira Liga, CFR Cluj in Romania and the Gabon national team.
He aims to bring his no-nonsense brand of football and set up the Mumbai team to fix their leaky defense.
Players to watch
Matias Mirabaje: The attacking midfielder played 12 matches for Delhi Dynamos and scored three goals and provided one assist. For a team which is looking to strike balance, the Uruguayan would be a good addition.
Paulo Machado: The midfielder will bring the Portuguese flair to Costa’s team. Machado will be the engine of the Mumbai midfield, however, his temperament may come into question from time to time.
Mumbai begins their campaign at home against Jamshedpur on Oct. 2 before traveling to Kerala on Oct. 5.
After a break of 14 days, the next three fixtures will take place in the space of eight days: Pune City (H) on Oct 19, FC Goa (A) on Oct. 24, and Delhi Dynamos (H) on Oct. 27.
The next set of fixtures will give the team more time to prepare as they play only three matches in four weeks: Chennaiyin (A) on Nov. 3, NorthEast United (A) on Nov. 9, and ATK (H) on Nov. 24.
However, the tight schedule returns when they travel to Delhi on Dec. 3, host Chennaiyin on Dec. 6, travel to Bengaluru on Dec. 9 and host Kerala Blasters on Dec. 16.
Costa’s team will aim to impress, however with most oppositions packing their teams with technically-superior players, Mumbai City FC’s task is cut out.
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